Friday, March 21, 2008

Part 196, In Which I Endorse a Candidate

The weekend before last, in the midst of all my midterm stress, I slacked off for a minute to talk politics with my dad. We pretty much agree: Samantha Power wasn't far off about Hillary, and we've got a crush on Obama. Such a crush, in fact, that we've been giving money; I've been giving in small, I'd-still-like-to-buy-food amounts, but my dad, recently, has taken up giving real money. Real money, for which he got, last weekend, tickets to a fundraiser photo op with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. He told me about these tickets, as we talked, and then utterly surprised me by saying, "I have an extra ticket, since Klement doesn't want to come. Do you want it?"

"Dad," I laughed, "have you forgotten that I live in California? I can't just randomly stop by for a party."

"Sure you can," he said. "I'll fly you out."

And so, because my mom wasn't around that weekend to say hey, wait a second guys, this is crazy, that's what actually happened. Last Monday I bought plane tickets online, and then last Thursday after classes I dashed home, threw some dirty laundry into a suitcase, and got on a plane to Boston, ready to party with the stars. Oh, sorry--pahty with the stahs. (It was in Boston, after all.)

Of course, it's absurd to think that either me or any of my immediate family members would actually enjoy a swanky fundraising party; on the contrary, my mom walked into the nightclub where it was held, took one look around at the other party guests, drinking wine and chatting, and said to me, not as sotto voce as she thought, "I'm pretty sure this is hell." So instead of staying and schmoozing, my parents and I did what we actually can do well: took unflattering photos with celebrities. I'm pretty sure, at this point, I could start a whole new blog solely documenting my failure to keep my eyes fully open when posing with famous people. I've got the first few posts right here.

He wasn't president when I met him, but that doesn't mean it wasn't cool.
After the picture, Margaret started squealing, "He touched me! Bono touched my cheek! I'm never going to wash it again!"

At least Jennifer Garner has red eyes too.

Ben Affleck looks so Bostonian.

The best part, I think, is how, while Jennifer Garner looks like a movie star, beautiful and photogenic, taking pictures with regular folks, we've dragged Ben Affleck down with us; all his practiced celebrity suavity went out the window when faced with my family's incredible ability, when taking photographs, to disagree on the location of the camera.

Cool as it was to meet Affleck and Garner, and cool as it was that my dad gave money to Obama--and yes, I know it's ridiculous that I'm about to downplay this, and yes, I know I'm spoiled--the better parts of the weekend were me just hanging out with my family: watching Slings and Arrows with my parents, cooking dinner for a neighbor with my mom, taking the dogs for a walk in the bird sanctuary/abandoned mental hospital with my dad, making and eating tortilla pizzas with Klement, admiring the beautiful purple walls of "my" bedroom, and wondering when, exactly, we became the type of family that has freshly cut flowers around the house. Oh, and of course it was wonderful to see The Dancing Newt, meet the newly engaged Pinto, and run into several other old acquaintances in the singles ward, and just as wonderful to see Boston again, even if it meant not seeing the sun all weekend. It was probably stupid and irresponsible of me to take off for an extended weekend in the crunch time just before spring break--I had to skip classes to do it, too--but, as with skiing, it was so, so worth it. Thanks, Dad, for the trip. It was a crazy idea, but so crazy it just might have worked.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Feed a cold, starve a fever, _____ midterms

It's been a little crazy here in the Petraverse over the last week or so; all those papers and projects and presentations I was ignoring at the top of the mountain came crashing down on me when I returned. One night early last week, I made a list on a notecard of all the major tasks I had to do--excepting all my ordinary reading assignments, short problem sets, church activities, classes, etc--and posted it on the wall behind my computer, which means that every day I can look at it and count eleven major tasks--papers, presentations, project abstracts--due within fourteen days. Then I can understand where that pesky eye twitch is coming from.

I arrived home late Monday night and noticed the smell of my apartment. Not that it smelled bad, just that the smell, formerly so homey, was foreign to me again. Then I counted and realized I had spent a grand total of eleven hours at my apartment since Friday morning--11 out of 84 isn't bad, right? That mostly means I stayed at the institute building a lot--on Friday, after a late night studying there, I was simply too tired to walk home, and so fell asleep on the floor of the attic upstairs, and got a full night's sleep there, interrupted only when a freshman downstairs asked, very loudly, around 4 AM, "Did anyone see Hannah go home?" On Saturday, I hung around the building until afternoon until a friend came by; I should have stayed there to work more, but I suddenly couldn't resist the idea of lunch, and so was lured away to eat mashed potatoes visit a bookstore sale. On Sunday, I showed up to church with my laptop in tow, planning to write a paper that afternoon. Instead, I wrote a beautiful outline, and then spent several hours with friends, making dinner, eating dinner, and cleaning up dinner. This is me, after years of striving to be The Perfect Student--fun dutifully postponed until after work, every single homework assignment, regardless of how inane or trivial, compulsively done, every paper drafted weeks ahead of time and taken to the teacher for comments--flirting with irresponsibility. Or, rather, flirting with having a life outside of school. I like it. I'm interested.

Unfortunately, I still must have a life inside of school, and the balance is killing me. Sunday night was the closest I've ever come to pulling an all-nighter. (Can you believe that I got through four years of college taking 18 credits a semester, working two or sometimes three jobs, writing an honors thesis, and trying to have a social life without ever once staying up all night to finish a project? Neither can I.) After dinner, I holed myself up in the attic of the institute building again and started my paper. When I say started, I really mean it: I hadn't even collected the data I was writing on. So I got about an hour and a half of sleep that night, meaning that it wasn't a true all-nighter, but I still feel it should be commemorated in some sort of scrapbook of my life. Just imagine the page: "Baby's First All-Nighter," scripted in a cutesy font, complete with candid photos of the night, from me sprawled across the papasan chair in the corner, sleeping soundly, to me taking an hour-long break to chat with a friend who stopped by around midnight, to me deciding, at 4 am, that I desperately needed to find a video of Tammy Wynette singing "Stand By Your Man," to, finally, me doing a Walk of Shame--9 am Monday morning, walking home, still in my church dress, eager to shower and change and be back to campus for class by 10.

Oh, and top of all this schoolwork craziness of the past week, I did something to my foot while running, meaning that not only can I not run, my main source of relaxation and sanity, I can barely walk, my main source of transportation in all times. (That's another reason I didn't go home on Friday night: just the thought of walking on my foot was unbearable.) So I've been hobbling around town begging rides from all and sundry--including, one memorable evening, from a friend who has a bicycle, not a car--and since the diagnosis, now made official, as of yesterday's doctor visit, is plantar fasciitis, who knows when the limping will end. Or, more importantly, when the running will begin again. I may need to find myself a different sanity-preserver. Drugs, anyone?

But it's all almost over--spring break in two weeks!--and I'm beginning to breathe a bit easier, though that may just be because I'm too tired to hold my breath any longer. And, heck, maybe I'll convince myself to stop flirting with irresponsibility. I think it's time to quit being such a tease and just commit.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

1, 2, Ski

I went skiing yesterday, up to Tahoe with some folks from my ward. Not all the details of the day are pleasant--waking up at 5 am after a 1.30 am bedtime, carrying my boots and skis up the hill to the institute building, trying to find a comfortable way to sleep in the middle of the backseat of the car during the three-hour drive, waiting in an ages-long rental line just for poles--but this time the suffering:pleasure ratio of skiing worked in my favor; once I got on the mountain, all that suffering was forgotten. I think I'd count yesterday as one of my top 5 favorite skiing days of all time, also including in that count (a) a late-March day at Sundance that was so warm I skiied in a T-shirt and track pants and lay down in the snow to cool off, (b) July 2 (!) at Snowbird, (c) a lovely memory-blend of all the days I've spent at Alta, and (d) the snowy day in Austria when my mom and I drank hot chocolate and read novels in the lodge all afternoon instead of skiing. Come to think of it, seeing as how the day at Sundance ended with a trip to the emergency room for my friend, who cut his hand on the edges of his skis, the day at Snowbird ended with my eyes so badly sunburned that they swelled shut, causing me to miss the Fourth of July fireworks to lie in a darkened room with a cool washcloth on my eyes, the "day" at Alta doesn't, properly speaking, exist, and the day in Austria also involved such low visibility that we spent the entire morning skiing without ever finding the other lift, a mere twenty yards away, yesterday might be one of the few unblemished, absolutely-blissful-in-every-way ski days to live in my memory.

Which means, of course, that it won't live in my memory at all as a discrete day, but as a happy glow surrounding the idea of skiing, the sort of contented feeling that keeps me shelling out a month's worth of grocery money for a day on the slopes. It was perfect not for anything major but for everything minor working together: it was sunny and warm, only about 30 degrees, and the resort offered long, not-too-hard and not-too-easy black diamond runs, quick-moving lift lines, and incredible views of Lake Tahoe. I skiied by myself in the morning, listening to music down the slopes and reading up the lift, at least when I wasn't randomly sitting next to Indonesians, and then with my friends in the afternoon.

My memories of the day will fade as quickly as the mild soreness in, strangely, my shoulders, but, as is usual with skiing, I won't forget the concentrated joys of speeding down a slope, nor the excited peace of standing at the top of a mountain looking up at the blue sky, around at the vistas, and down at the run. Getting off a lift yesterday, I was struck by how relaxed I felt: thoughts of all my upcoming midterms and presentations and papers were far from my mind, which was taken up entirely by enjoyment of my surroundings. My dad always says that even the worst day skiing is better than the best day doing anything else, and though I don't agree I can feel why he says it. I know Mormons don't believe in a stagnant, all-pleasure-for-all-eternity sort of heaven, but sometimes I want to, if only so that I can look forward to many, many, many more days like yesterday. I suppose, instead, that I'll just have to keep skiing. Anyone free next weekend?